This post was contributed by Garland Mason.
Two weeks ago Susan Clark, project director for the Appalachian Foodshed Project, and I attended a quarterly meeting of the Appalachian Transition Fellows. Elandria Williams and Kierra Sims of the Highlander Center facilitated the two day meeting infused which included collective visioning for change, learning about fellows’ projects, and talking about transitioning Central Appalachia away from extractive industries and into more sustainable avenues for community development.
The fellows consist of a lively, motivated group of young people, all with roots in Appalachia and a passion for the region’s cultural heritage. During their year-long fellowship each individual is assigned a work placement in Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina or West Virginia. At the meeting I met: Appalachian Transition fellow Mae Hutchison who is working with Community Farm Alliance, based in Hazard Kentucky; Joey Aloi with The Greater Kanawha Valley Foundation, Charleston Area Medical Center and Corey Brothers in Charleston, West Virginia; Willa Johnson of Carolina Textile District and Opportunity Threads in Morganton, North Carolina; and Derrick Van Kundra who is working with Appalachian Sustainable Development in Abingdon, Virginia. These fellows have agreed to contribute blog posts in the coming months to share the stories of their work and the exciting development initiatives taking hold in their regions. We’re excited to have the opportunity to help share these stories with you and we hope you’ll stay tuned!
Garland Mason is a master’s degree student in the department of Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education at Virginia Tech. She works as a graduate research assistant for the Appalachian Foodshed Project.